A grassroots group is looking to reduce the environmental footprint of Altona's largest public facility, the Millennium Exhibition Centre. 

The Earth Team, made up of five local citizens, is conducting a green building audit in the second of a three-phase, three-year federal program that is providing about $60,000 to the community for climate action.

"A friend of mine reached out. He was working at the Green Action Centre in Winnipeg at the time and something had landed on his desk, and it was a program for rural and Indigenous communities for climate change action," explained Jonah Langletoz, a community member leading the charge on this latest green effort for the Town and surrounding area. 

The program is being facilitated by the Manitoba Climate Action Team (MCAT), and Phase 1 kicked off with a community workshop in May where members of the community-at-large were able to offer feedback following a presentation on carbon emissions in Manitoba and discuss where the local group should focus its energy. 

Phase 2 will run from January to May, and involves the Earth Team taking part in five monthly sessions that include education and going through the green building audit, led by MCAT and experts. 

"We thought, this is the biggest building in town and has the biggest footprint because of that. And that was something that was identified in the local climate action plan done by Eco-West," explained Langelotz, who has teamed up with David Aawatzky, a member of the Town's recreation maintenance staff, to put together an extensive checklist for the audit. "They want baseline information for the building like litres of water consumed in a year, kilowatts of energy, they would measure that to find a baseline and find where we can improve."

Ultimately, the findings of the audit will be presented to the Earth Team in the fifth and final session. From there, $7,500 will be made available for a medium-scale project based on those findings. 

Phase 2 also allows for the Earth Team to host up to 10 community workshops between now and May. 

In Phase 3, a working group will be created to coordinate a larger-scale project being funded through the federal program to the tune of $50,000. 

"To me, it seemed like a great opportunity for the community," said Langelotz. "The way I see it at least, there's all of these potential opportunities and needs in our community that aren't always met. Sometimes it feels like this is a lot more than I wanted to do but, at the same time, how can you say no to this? There are sixty-five thousand dollars available, and it's all money that's going into the community that wouldn't otherwise."

He noted, Altona is home to many large projects that have been spearheaded by local citizens, citing Access Field, skatepark, and community garden as examples. 

"It just goes to show that's how things happen in a small community like this."